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Service line coverage and homeowners insurance
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers your dwelling, personal possessions and a number of other things. If something happens to your home, there's a good chance it will be covered by your home insurance policy. However, you might be responsible for damage sustained to the lines bringing water, electricity, or other vital utilities into your home. Should these lines fail, service line coverage can help you restore your home to normal.
Find out how your homeowners insurance policy handles such lines and see whether adding service line coverage is right for you.
What is service line coverage?
Service line coverage is an add-on insurance coverage that helps you repair or replace vital water pipes or utility lines if they sustain damage. Standard homeowners insurance policies aren’t likely to cover such damages, some of which can be quite costly to repair. Many home insurance companies offer service line coverage for a small increase in your annual premium.
There are a number of scenarios in which this coverage could come in handy. For instance, water pipes may corrode and begin to leak below your home’s foundation. This can be particularly troublesome for lines responsible for waste disposal. While your standard insurance policy won’t likely cover damages to utility lines or plumbing, service line coverage could provide assistance.
What types of service lines are covered?
Service line coverage steps in to help repair or replace lines that connect electricity, heating, internet access, and other important services to your home. As these services are vital to making your home habitable, having this coverage can be a very good idea.
Service lines that are protected by this coverage:
- Sewer lines
- Water lines
- Natural gas lines
- Electrical wiring
- Power lines
- Telecommunications services
- Fiber optics
- Cable lines
In most cases, you’ll also be covered for underground piping that brings geothermal, compressed air or steam to your home. Some insurance companies may not offer service line protection to lines not located underground.
What else is covered by service line insurance?
On top of the actual costs to repair the damage to your lines, there are often a number of other expenses. For instance, excavation costs associated with repairing or replacing sewer pipes can be quite steep. If damage to your service lines renders your home uninhabitable, service line coverage will help pay for additional living expenses or a place to stay temporarily.
Other things commonly covered by service line coverage:
- Loss of use
- Excavation costs
- Damage to outdoor property (landscaping restoration)
How are service lines usually damaged?
There are a number of causes of service line failure.
Common causes of service line damage:
- Wear and tear
- Tree roots
- Rodent/insect damage
- Fallen trees or heavy equipment on the lawn
- Stray electrical currents
Is service line damage the responsibility of the utility company or city?
If damage occurs to service lines on your property, the responsibility for repairs will likely fall on you. If the damage occurs off-premises, it will likely be covered by the utility company or municipality. For instance, if a blockage in the city main caused your plumbing to back up, the city could be responsible.
Are some service lines excluded?
Service line coverage does not include some key systems in your home. It’s important to be aware of these so that you can seek out the appropriate coverage if need be.
Here are some of the systems and parts of your home not likely covered by service line coverage:
- Septic systems
- Sump pumps
- Fuel tanks
- Water wells
- Heating/cooling systems
Service line coverage differs from sewer backup coverage: it's unlikely to pay for damage done to the interior of your home that results from a service line failure. For that, you would need a separate sewer or water backup endorsement.
How much is service line coverage?
Service line coverage typically runs between $20 and $50 in additional insurance premium each year. This varies, depending on which company you choose, what coverage level you set and the state in which you live. According to the company's website, American Family Insurance offers $10,000 in coverage with a $500 deductible, all for only $20 extra each year. Travelers Insurance offers coverage amounts with $10,000 and $20,000 limits for an added $30 or $40 per year, respectively.
Is service line coverage necessary?
Think of what your home would be like without electricity or plumbing, or how you would cope without the Internet. Many modern conveniences depend on these lines to bring important services into your home. While policyholders aren’t typically required to carry service line coverage, homeowners should strongly consider it.
Digging up your yard to replace a broken pipe or severed power line can be costly. If you are unable to stay in your home while it is being repaired, you can expect the added costs of lodging and other expenses to add up quickly. When you think about the added benefit of having service line coverage — as well as the negligible amount of additional premium — service line coverage seems like a no-brainer.
If you are worried about extra costs, it might be time to consider shopping for a new policy. The Zebra can help you compare insurance quotes and find a policy that is suited to your needs and affordable.
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About The Zebra
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
- The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
- The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
- The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
- The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.